The University at Buffalo football team will play Charlotte of Conference USA in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl at 2 p.m. Dec. 20 in Nassau, Bahamas. UB (7-5) accepted the bowl bid Sunday, two days after closing the regular season with a 49-7 win over Bowling Green.
Here are five things to know about the 49ers:
1. A first time for everything: Charlotte will play in its first bowl game as an FBS program. Charlotte moved to FBS in 2015 after resuming the program in 2013 and played its first two seasons as an FCS independent.
Charlotte coach Will Healy said in a statement on Sunday that while gaining bowl eligibility after winning five consecutive games is good, the 49ers aren’t satisfied. Like UB, Charlotte’s goal is to win its first bowl game in its short history as an FBS program.
2. How the 49ers got here: Charlotte defeated Old Dominion 38-22 on Saturday in Norfolk, Va., to earn the first winning season in program history. The 49ers (7-5, 5-3 Conference USA) set school records for wins and conference wins in a season, and finished the regular season with a five-game winning streak to become bowl eligible. Charlotte finished fourth in Conference USA’s East Division, behind Florida Atlantic, Marshall and Western Kentucky.
Charlotte had a losing record in each of its first six seasons, including its first two seasons as an FCS program. The closest the 49ers got to a winning season was in 2018, when they finished 5-7.
3. Youth will be served: Healy is in his first year as Charlotte’s coach, and at 34, he’s one of the youngest FBS coaches.
Healy was a quarterback at Air Force and at Richmond from 2003 to 2008, and was the head coach of Austin Peay, an FCS program in Clarksville, Tenn., from 2016 to 2018. The Governors were 13-21 in Healy’s tenure, but went 8-4 in 2017 and Healy was named the Eddie Robinson Award winner as the national FCS coach of the year in 2017.
Healy also was an assistant for six seasons at Tennessee-Chattanooga, where he coached quarterbacks and wide receivers, was the passing game coordinator and recruiting coordinator.
Charlotte hired Healy in December of 2018 to replace Brad Lambert, who was 22-48 in six seasons.
4. A look at the personnel: Running back Benny LeMay is Charlotte’s leading rusher with 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns on 180 carries in 10 games for the 49ers. Lemay has back-to-back seasons with at least 1,000 yards rushing (he ran for 1,243 yards in 2018), and he has run for at least 100 yards in seven games this season.
Quarterback Chris Reynolds is a dual threat for the 49ers; he was 166-for-267 passing for 2,366 yards and 21 touchdowns, and was intercepted 10 times. He also ran for 781 yards and six touchdowns on 139 carries in 12 games.
Victor Tucker is Charlotte’s leading receiver, with 848 yards and six touchdowns on 49 catches.
Defensive end Alex Highsmith is one of three players tied for second in the nation with 14 sacks, and defensive back Marquavis Gibbs leads the 49ers with 94 tackles.
5. Western New York ties: Tommy Doctor is a redshirt senior and a defensive lineman for the 49ers, and a 2014 graduate of Grand Island High School. Tyler Ringwood, a redshirt junior, is a wide receiver and a 2016 graduate of Bishop Timon-St. Jude.
Doctor's father, Tom, was a linebacker at Canisius College and played for the Buffalo Bills and his uncle, Sean, played at Marshall and also played for the Bills. Tommy Doctor has 25 tackles in 11 games this season.
Ringwood played at Erie Community College in 2017 after a season at UB, and transfered to Charlotte prior to the 2018 season. Ringwood has 20 catches for 331 yards and five touchdowns this season.